Today’s economy is based on ever narrower specialization–people who know their specific domains inside and out, even if they don’t know much else. But this might be leading to greater problems in the future. Specialization only became possible as technology advanced, requiring workers with special knowledge in order to do their jobs. In the past, certain trades were also specialized, and such knowledge was kept within that profession. Apprentices learned from experienced tradesmen, and so it was in many kinds of work for hundreds of years.
Puerto Rico typically only makes news in the US when the topic of statehood comes up. But the island territory has been embroiled in an economic crisis for the past several years, which is now coming to a head. First, it’s helpful to be aware of Puerto Rico’s status relative to individual states in the US. It’s more than a difference in name and voting rights. Puerto Rico doesn’t have any representation in Congress, nor do its people get any electoral votes for President.
Managing employees is not a new science, and yet effective practitioners seem to be few and far between. Some workplaces are rife with turmoil, high turnover, and poor performance. What gives? There are multiple factors at work here. One of the most prominent is pay: low-paid workers will not feel particularly invested in their job, and so are less likely to perform it well. This doesn’t mean that no one will do a good job, but it does mean that competent workers will likely move on to something better-paying at the first opportunity.
In a historic move, the United Kingdom just voted to leave the European Union. Why did this happen and what does it all mean? Right up to the day of voting, it looked like the votes to remain in the EU would win out. Instead, the UK voted to exit the EU by a comfortable margin of 52-48. Certain consequences are unfolding quickly. Prime Minister David Cameron has already promised to leave office by October.
There is finally an ending to a story that began some months ago! Back in March, I posted about some difficulties I was having with a child support debit card. The short version: after weeks of making phone calls, and several hours on the phone, I was left with the promise of getting a call back that would hopefully solve my problems. As it turns out, that call never came.
Economists tend to present themselves as impartial arbiters of truth, as people who are reporting only how the market works, rather than making judgments as to why it works, or how it should work. This view is, at best, self-delusion. At worst, it’s a lie that kills people. What prompted this post was giving a thorough read to Brad DeLong’s _The Public Square and Economists. _It’s an excellent paper that offers a solid overview of what economists, at their best, have to tell us:
Do you pay for what you read online? Probably not. But the market is evolving, and we’re in for an interesting future. People have been trying to monetize online content for as long as the Internet has been commercial. In the early years of the World Wide Web (and several years before), Internet service providers offered unique content–news, games, and other information–that couldn’t be found on their competitors’ services. That was how services like Prodigy, America On-Line, and others differentiated themselves.
For Americans, it seems that freedom and capitalism have, at some point in our history, become interchangeable concepts. There is no freedom without the ability to own and control capital, and capital that cannot be used as its owner wishes cannot be considered freedom. But is this really right? You’ve probably guessed already that the answer is “no.” But it’s why that matters. How did we come to link these ideas together, and what purpose does it serve?
Labor unions in the United States are both more and less popular than people tend to believe. Confusing? It sure is. I spend a lot of time thinking about labor in the United States, and around the world. What will the future look like? Will there be more worker organization, or less? And how do Americans feel about unions, anyway? I wanted to see what data existed, and sure enough, Gallup has some long-term polling on American attitudes toward labor unions.
The fight for a $15 minimum wage in the US seemed to spring up almost out of nowhere. How did this become a hot political issue so suddenly? In fact, efforts to have the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour started back in 2012. It was one of the demands of fast food workers in New York City who were on strike. The striking workers didn’t get what they demanded–at least not at the time–but workers in New York City will have a $15 minimum wage as soon as 2019, thanks to state legislation passed last month.